How Amazing is That?

Greetings. On a recent visit to a veterinarian’s office a bright red brochure caught my eye. A brochure that promised to solve one of the most important challenges of dog ownership…keeping Fido’s, or in our case Vincent’s, teeth as clean and healthy as possible. For while we have taught Vincent to sit, stay, lie down, be gentle, pick up the Wall Street Journal from curb, stay off of the furniture, watch English Premier League soccer games with focus and passion, and remain calm when the mailman or UPS driver knock on the door, we have somehow failed to teach him how to brush his own teeth. And, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure that this skill was within his grasp.

How to Teach Your Dog

So when the folks at Milk Bone promised to solve this problem for us, my ears jumped straight up as though someone had just offered me a peanut butter-coated biscuit or the world’s largest squirrel had just appeared outside the back door. And I quickly imagined placing a new soft bristle brush in his furry little paw and then demonstrating the proper technique for keeping his adorable canines all pearly white. (Yes dogs and humans have “canine” teeth!…but I digress.) I also imagined taking Vincent to CVS where he could pick out his favorite brand of salmon-flavored toothpaste along with a spool of rabbit-flavored floss. That is until I actually opened the brochure and discovered that the innovative folks at Milk Bone were simply being clever marketers of a clever new dog treat designed to remove tartar, plaque, and halitosis (a.k.a., dog breath). Simply by chewing on. And that these benefits had somewhat miraculously been “proven in clinical trials.”

Not quite as impressive as teaching a world of dogs to actually brush their teeth. But it got my attention.

And it struck me that all of us, and all of the companies and organizations we work for, have the same ability to make remarkable promises that we could keep in slightly less remarkable but “clinically proven” ways.

So why not spend a few moments thinking about a new and bold promise that would really matter to the customers you have the privilege to serve. Then follow it up with a very creative and engaging way to solve it that gets their attention and inspires them to want to know more. After all, a big part of marketing and business success is the act of starting a conversation.

We win in business and in life when we get the attention of others. And when we use that attention to deliver on a promise that really matters.

Cheers!

Real Innovation or Clever Marketing?

Greetings. The recent ad campaign for the new Adidas “Spring Blade” running shoe made it seem remarkable. In fact, I started to imagine that this might be the greatest innovation in the history and science of running since the actual invention of the shoe or the development of smooth pavement. A marvel of modern technology that could instantly transform me into an Olympic-caliber athlete the moment I laced them up. Be still my pounding heart!

And all because the folks at this leading athletic apparel company decided to rethink the way that running shoes might work by forming a sole with sixteen super high tech polymer blades (or springs) designed to create explosive energy that would literally launch runners (or in my case joggers) forward while requiring less effort. Blades “tuned” to provide perfect support in each phase of a runner’s stride.

The only real question is whether this is brilliant innovation or simply brilliant marketing. And if you have $180 to spend you can see for yourself on August 1st when they arrive at your favorite running store or online retailer. And please let me know what you think…because in the mind of this middle-aged athlete and technology enthusiast hope springs eternal!

Springblade 1

We win in business and in life when we capture the imagination of those we have the privilege to serve. And when we enable them to reach new heights of performance and success.

Cheers!

Finding Our Forever Home

Greetings. It’s been six months since Vincent became a member of our family. And since the moment we picked him up, at a rest stop near the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, we have become more and more smitten with his furry, adorable, and appreciative self. In fact, there hasn’t been a single day when we haven’t thanked our lucky stars that we found each other…connected by the Flatcoated Retriever Society Rescue organization not so long after our last furry, adorable, and appreciative dog Ella died of cancer at the young age of eight.

As it turns out, we were Vincent’s tenth family and the end of his long and very challenging journey to find his “forever home.” A journey that took him to two “kill” shelters and many families before becoming available one last time. He escaped from the first kill shelter just after his brother was adopted, then spent time on his own in rural North Carolina where he was hit by a car, found, and then turned in to another kill shelter. There he was discovered and saved by a wonderful rescue coordinator hours before he was to be put to sleep. But a variety of health challenges including heartworm and some major infections which caused him to lose all of the fur on his underside, combined with being bullied by other dogs and even cats, left him bouncing from home to foster home and through a series of transitions that must have seemed increasingly routine.

And through it all, Vincent remained remarkably upbeat and resilient. In fact, the ad on the rescue website said that a trainer had declared him to be “close to the perfect dog.” It was a statement that must have surely caused prospective families, including ours, to wonder how a “close to the perfect dog” had been in nine homes. Talk about clever or hopeful marketing.

Yet all Vincent was looking for, and all that any of us are ever looking for, is the right fit and the chance to find a place where we can grow, prosper, and make a difference. In all of the relationships we hold dear and the places where we live and work.

After six months we can safely say that Vincent is “close to the perfect dog.” Sure he inhales his food, destroys plush toys, eats large clumps of grass as soon as I mow the lawn, steals a sock or two, occasionally begs at the dinner table, and is afraid of dogs, cats, turtles, cars, thunder, lightning, rain, odd sounds, and even his own shadow. And to be certain, we have spent a small fortune on vet bills and natural remedies intended to cure his last remaining ailments. But there is no kinder, gentler, sillier, happier, cuddlier, retrievier (probably not a word), more grateful, or more loyal sixty-five pound creature on the planet. And each day our appreciation for him and the amazing magic that he has brought to our lives continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

The phrase “forever home” is widely used by rescue leagues and animal shelters to describe their hope that the next family will be the right match and offer the stability and affection that a dog or cat so desperately longs for. And, just like Vincent and the millions of other turned in or abandoned animals in our midst, all most employees are really looking for is their “forever home.” Not in the sense that they intend to stay their forever, but in their hope that they will find a place where their strengths are appreciated, their defects are insignificant, and they can make the most meaningful contribution possible. That they will find a place, for as long as possible, where they will truly matter for who they are and what they can help us to become. A place that will take the time to bring out their own amazing magic.

Which shouldn’t be too much to ask. In fact, isn’t it in our best interest to make this happen?

Vincent Photo x

We win in business and in life when we find a place where we belong. A place that recognizes from our picture, or an ad, or a first encounter that, even with all of our flaws, we too, are “close to the perfect dog.”

Cheers!

BOGO

Greetings.  "Buy One Get One Free" or "BOGO" is a popular marketing idea for many products and services.  Buy one box of cereal and get a second free.  Buy one can of tennis balls and get another at no additional cost.  Buy one air conditioner unit tune-up and get a second one thrown in to the deal.  In fact, BOGO offers are everywhere.  In newspapers and internet ads, on infomercials and prominently displayed in the windows of dozens of our favorite stores.  And if you listen to the right radio stations here in the Washington, DC area and many other cities you're likely to hear commercials for Jos. A Bank's clothing stores that make their almost unbelievable "BOGT" offers…"Buy one of our fabulous men's designer suits and get two more suits absolutely free."  It's an ad so amusing that our son Noah and I can often be heard making our own even more remarkable version…"Buy one fabulous designer suit and get a hundred more suits absolutely free."  So much for a bit of exaggeration.

But the idea of a BOGO offer took a new twist today on a drive from Bloomington, Indiana, to Indianapolis International Airport.  Passing St. Francis Hospital in Mooresville, Indiana, I was struck by their large electronic sign and interesting offer:

BUY ONE HEART SCAN AND GET A SECOND ONE FREE.

Now that's quite a deal.  Especially for people who have two hearts.  Though it quickly dawned on me that that's a relatively small market and that it was an even better deal for someone with one heart who is concerned about a spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend.  After all, wouldn't a heart scan be an awesome gift for that special and unsuspecting person in your life.

Which got me thinking that maybe BOGO's weren't such a lame idea after all.  And maybe they had even more compelling value in inspiring sound consumer behavior tied to services and solutions that really matter.

Heart scan

We win in business and in life when we offer life-saving value.  And when we are willing to test the power of ideas in new settings.

Cheers!

How Strong Are You?

Greetings.  If you've ever tried Altoids you know that they are "curiously strong mints."  It's a boast, and a marketing concept, that's printed right on top of every box.  

But how strong are they?

Well…

"If you sail to an island, defeat a giant, and scale a mountaintop, Altoids are still stronger than you."

Now that's strong!  And it's also a fun way to get people to spend a little bit more time thinking about a product that they use but take for granted.  A simple product that is trying to leverage the power of curiosity as a way to generate more interest and buzz.  In fact, the Altoids website contains a "Hall of Curiosity" where you can learn more "curious" and ever changing facts about the mint "so strong it changed the course of history."

Which begs the following questions:  "How strong are you?"  "What strengths do you have that really matter to those you have the privilege to serve?"  And, "What are you doing on a consistent basis to invest in your strengths and genius so you can deliver even greater value and possibly change the course of history?"

Because if a breath mint is that important, your company or organization must have a pretty impressive upside too!

Altoids

We win in business and in life by accentuating our strengths in a way that is upbeat, helpful and even silly.

Cheers and have a great weekend!